It's the most wonderful time of the year for Saturday Night Live, or so you might think. End of the calendar year. Christmas on the brains. The combination sometimes makes for some comedy magic. I remember a few years ago, attending a friend of a friend's Christmas party, when everyone was socializing in the kitchen, and I ambled into the living room where what did my wandering eyes see next to the Christmas tree but a TV tuned into SNL and Justin Timberlake with Andy Samberg singing what's now an award-winning comedy tune about giving their loves a "Dick in a Box." What do we get this year?
For one thing, we don't open cold on a lackluster political bit. Hooray! No one wants to hear what you think is funny about health-care, anyhow, no matter how nice it was that SNL alum, Sen. Al Franken, shut up Sen. Joe Lieberman on the Senate floor the other day. Instead, it's another episode of "The Lawrence Welk Show," with Fred Armisen as Welk hosting among not-so tiny bubbles. Tank you, tank you, tank you. Is that really a joke about ladies and fingers to open the show? Oh my. James Franco plays some guy named Rico to sing a song, but it's all about the sister act that always switches out all of its sisters, save for Judice (Kristen Wiig, with her big forehead and tiny hands!). Judice? Is that even a thing? I thought her name was Denise? Did the Meryl Sisters switch so many sisters (Amy Poehler, Casey Wilson, Michaela Watkins and Anne Hathaway have been there, done that) that to join Abby Elliott, Jenny Slate and Nasim Pedrad, she needed a new identity? Look into it, comedy nerds! Of all of her wacked-out characters, this might be the easiest of Wiig's to digest on a recurring basis. It's between her and Target lady. Am I right? Look into it, comedy nerds! So much homework for you kids…
James Franco looks like he is so high reading his monologue. Comedy nerds do not need to look into this. Nice of him to make fun of him falling asleep during college classes, his current turn on "General Hospital" and plugging a fake movie. I could use a spinning bin filled with ideas from fans on career advice for me for 2010. Does one of them say: Get paid to make SNL better? Perfect!
Oooh. BET's "What Up With That?" is back for a third time, and this time, in the first half-hour? With guests Mike Tyson, Jack McBrayer and Lindsay Buckingham (Bill Hader). Tonight's version is even more UCB Del Close Marathonesque than usual, because this is exactly the type of comedy event that happens in the chaos of the Del Close Marathon with Jack McBrayer sitting in the middle of it, smiling and wondering what's happening all around him. The addition of the kids dressed up like Kenan Thompson is the nuts! You know what, though? Not enough dancing from Mike Tyson and Jason Sudeikis. You know what could fix that? If NBC put up the dress rehearsal version of this sketch. Done? Done! YAY! As before, Slate and Pedrad are backup singer/dancers, Armisen is not playing the sax, Will Forte is introducing the proceedings. No need for the mid-scene interlude from Wiig and Franco, really. Whatevs. In the dress, John Stockton's (Andy Samberg) drumline also actually knows how to drum. Who knew? Dress rehearsal FTW. Roll the dress rehearsal!
We're back, and James Franco is a college kid bringing a girlfriend (Elliott) home to meet his parents (Wiig, Armisen), and it's the return of the family-who-kisses-all-the-time sketch. That's the name for this, right? Hader plays the older brother who kisses Franco on the lips. There goes that rumor. Heightening, anyone? Thompson is the UPS man. Forte and Pedrad are the grandparents. Hello!
SNL Digital Short time: It's the Tizzle Wizzle Show! Pedrad, Samberg, Slate, Bobby Moynihan and Elliott are in their pajamas. Only they call them jammies! With James Franco. This is dark, my friends. Dark, dark, dark, funny. Hide the kids. Kids hidden? Grab a knife, some pills, a glowstick, and kill the lights!
Television Dominicana presents "The Manuel Ortiz Show" with host (Armisen) settling domestic disputes. Angie Cruz (Slate) needs help with her boyfriend. Angie looking like a hot mess! Franco is the boyfriend. Wait. Let's dance! Wiig is Franco's co-worker. Pedrad and Moynihan are Franoc's parents. Thompson is an assistant or something. Mucho dancing.
Hold on. Muse is playing some spaced-out rock opera that I'm famous in my own head for liking. This one's called "Uprising." Victorious!
Weekend Update with Seth Meyers. You kids need to wait for the sound effects on one of these jokes. With his guests. How jealous are Heidi and Spencer. They spent years making themselves famous for being horrible people. And here in a few short weeks, SNL has done "Jersey Shore" twice already? Moynihan plays Snooki in an inspired casting choice. "Guido is not a derogatoni word!" Check out Hader's "situation." I don't understand how people could spell this wrong, however. It's Snooki. Not Snookie! Pay attention, people. Seaside Heights, where am I?
And here are Garth & Kat (Armisen and Wiig) in matching vests for a musical duet. They thought this was happening next week, but they're ready with their new Christmas song, anyhow? Hey. We get it. It's a comedy show, right? I wish these two could sing with political comedian Nicholas Fehn.
Just when you think a sketch about a college fraternity is going to be awful, well, it's not what you think. Reading is FUNdamental! Franco, Sudeikis and Moynihan are the frat boys, and Samberg is the pledge. Explain yourselves! No, really. Explain, please?
Back into the TV vault for a trip back to 1954, and Hader as Vincent Price for a Christmas special, with his guests Katharine Hepburn (Wiig), James Dean (Franco), Liberace (Armisen) and Marilyn Monroe (Elliott). Good job, Franco! I'm an olden person. Oh, wait. What's this ending? This sketch was written by the UCB. Right?
James Franco is selling Christmas trees. It's really hard to part with loved ones, isn't it? Why does Franco love him every Christmas tree? Sudeikis, Pedrad, Thompson, Elliott, Wiig, Armisen are customers. Moynihan helps out. One of these trees should call Franco out for being a cheater. Or is this a macabre way to talk about Tiger Woods? Never forget!
Another Muse performance. I am A-Mused. This one's called "Starlight."
Five minutes to go. "Carol, hold my calls!" It's the "Fart Face" office guys (Hader and Forte) with James Franco looking and talking like Josh Brolin? Jerry, Carl and Troy, you say? Close enough. Secret Santa says dildos. Dildos, dildos, dildos. Ted Fields is a "fart face" for being allergic to dildos. FART FACE!
Wait. What's th
is? One more sketch? Mark Wahlberg talks to Christmas animals. Samberg is hoping Wahlberg says hi to his mother for Christmas. At least we get to see what a partridge and a pear tree looks like. And a reindeer with a red nose strapped to it. Who is the person who had to find all of these things by Saturday night? Do they get a raise for this?
I think I enjoyed this show. The duds weren't total duds. The highlights were light, and probably high. No time to wonder about all of this. In fact, time's up. See you in 2010, SNL! Merry Christmas, happy holidays and hoping all that you wish for comes true.